“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9”
It was a quiet, sun-dappled early fall morning Sunday.
Barely a breeze jostled the still-green leaves.
It was a day not unlike that day a decade s ago when four airliners hijacked by terrorists slammed in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, shattering the stillness and America’s tranquility.
“It altered our sense of security in our own communities, cities and our country as a whole,” said Great Bend Fire Chief Mike Napolitano. He addressed a gathering of firefighters, law enforcement personnel, other first responders, soldiers, veterans and local residents huddled in the front driveway of Fire Station No. 1 Sunday morning.
This was the local ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of that fateful day. The downtown service was one of many simultainious events across the country marking the attacks.
“We are gathered here to join with other cities around the United States in remembering the events of 10 years ago – the event that changed all our lives,” the chief said. The assault jeoprodized “many of the freedoms we, as Americans, have always enjoyed.”
The commemoration included a color guard made up of Great Bend Fire Department firefighters, which solomly marched in with the American Flag. In addition to the civilians in the terrorists’ targets, first responderswere among the first casualties as they rushed to the scenes.
It also included the ringing of the large bell on the firehouse lawn in rememerance those who lost their lives. Traditionally, the bell sounds to mark a shift change, a call for help or to notify firefighters that a comrade had been killed in the line of duty, Napolitano said.
“This time-honored tradition is still used today to memorialize those that have died,” he said. Then, at the precise moment the first WTC tower collapsed, the peeling of the bell reverberated throughout the neighborhood.
As the echoes faded, a moment of silence followed.
The attacks and the conflicts they spawned have not only taken their toll on U.S. soil. “This day, on the 10th Anniversary of this unprovoked attack against our land and our people, we will be true to your calling and take time to remember all those who have been harmed in the ensuing violence,” said Chuck Smith in his closing prayer.
He prayed for those killed in the attacks, those who responded, and the American troops who have lost their lives or been wounded in the service or our nation overseas.
But, he also prayed for Allied troops who have also died, the civilians who have been killed “as war has ravaged their nations across the Middle East,” and “those who have stood against us, just as You have called us to do.”